An electric crowd packed Club de Golf Chapultepec over the weekend, and moving day saw some of golf’s superstars put on a show, setting up Sunday’sfinal round.
Fueled by an ace and a third-round 66, Justin Thomas held a one-shot lead over world number one Dustin Johnson and a two-shot lead over both Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Also in contention were wily veteran Lee Westwood and young European stars Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Thomas Pieters.
After an opening birdie, Thomas’ sharp play faded, and the young star yielded the lead to world number one Dustin Johnson, who birdied three of the final four holes on the front nine to open up a four-shot lead. It looked as though Johnson would cruise to his second win of 2017, but bogeys on 12 and 13 set him back while young star Jon Rahm caught fire. Rahm made an eagle and two birdies to pull ahead of Johnson midway through the back nine.
Coming down the stretch, Johnson righted the ship with a birdie on 15, and Rahm stumbled with three-putt bogeys on 16 and 17 to fall out of contention. Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood was able to birdie the 18th to close out a final-round 66 and pull within one of Johnson, forcing the star to make pars down the stretch.
Johnson found trouble on the 18th and was faced with an awkward sidehill fairway bunker lie, needing a par to win. The world’s best player made the difficult shot look easy, hitting it to twenty feet and locking up his fourth career WGC title, second only to Tiger Woods (who has 18!). Full scores
With the win, DJ earned his second consecutive victory and cemented himself in as world number one. Most impressive about Johnson’s win was that he was just average on the greens, finishing t74th out of 76 in the “inside 10 feet” putting statistic. It’s hard to imagine anyone being able to match Johnson’s A-game, and his Masters odds reflect it, currently sitting as the favorite 6 to 1.
A new superstar is here
Despite his struggles down the stretch, Jon Rahm made quite the debut in his first World Golf Championship, finishing in a tie for third. It’s been less than a year since Rahm turned professional, but he has already notched a win and four other top five finishes while missing only one cut. Rahm’s incredible consistency and transcendent driving and putting ability make him one of the world’s ten best players right now. Here’s our profile on Rahm from November.
Making his first start since early January, Rory McIlroy showed no ill-effects from the rib injury that sidelined him as he surged into the 36- hole lead after a scintillating second- round 65. Rory’s hot play faded over the weekend, shooting rounds of 70-71 and settling for a t7th finish. Perhaps the culprit for Rory’s average play was the case of Montezuma’s revenge that he caught earlier in the week, causing him to simply run out of gas.
The adventures of Phil
One surprise on a leaderboard filled with elite drivers was Phil Mickelson, who found himself just two shots out of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round. On Saturday, Mickelson put on one of the most incredible displays of scrambling and shot-making his way out of trouble, regularly saving pars from horrible positions on the claustrophobically tight setup. Somehow, despite losing an astounding 3.6 shots to the field off the tee (good for dead last on Saturday), Mickelson still shot a 3-unde-par 68! Unfortunately, his tee struggles continued Sunday, leading to a final round 71 and a t7th finish, his best yet in 2017.
31 days and counting…
Last week’s WGC Mexico Championship signals the final sprint to Augusta! The Masters are 31 days away, and it’s officially not too early to look at what lies ahead. Check out the first segment of our Masters preview as we detail out the storylines to watch at this year’s event.
Inbee we trust
Sunday’s final round at the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champions saw the rare sight of former phenom Michelle Wie holding a 54-hole lead. At the start of the season, Wie ditched her “table top” putting method to go back to a more conventional method, and the results have been solid. Wie got off to a great start on Sunday, birdieing two of the first four holes to extend her lead, but then a four-putt double bogey killed her momentum and opened the door for her competitors, namely South Korean legend Inbee Park who caught fire, birdieing eight of ten holes in the middle of the round to surge into the lead and win the championship, shooting a course record 64 in the process. Wie ended up in a tie for fourth, five shots back of Park after a final-round 72, but the high finish has to be a big confidence builder for the now 27-year-old.
In South Africa for the European Tour’s Tshwane Open, 29- year-old and South African native Dean Burmester blitzed the field, making the turn after a six- under- par 29 to open up a six shot lead. Burmeister's big lead allowed him to cruise to the win, ending up three shots clear of Jorge Campillo and Mikko Korhonen. Burmeister entered the week without playing privileges on the Tour after struggling through the 2016 season, but the win earns him full status on Tour and a spot in the top 100 of the world rankings.
Set your DVR’s for 9pm EST for the return of Golf Channel’s Feherty, who will be joined by Phil Mickelson for this year’s season opener.